Promiscuity becomes a defining feature of some women. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)
Promiscuity becomes a defining feature of some women. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

“Mean Girls,” famously penned by possible goddess Tina Fey, features the word slut numerous times. Its uses range from what girls are allowed to be on Halloween to the ultimate insult Regina uses on herself to incriminate her friends. Slut is a fixture in our lexicon, a label we use to be degrading, and honestly, I don’t like it. I’m against slut-shaming for many reasons, and if most people thought about it, they would not be so into it either.

Slut shaming is an act that is intended to make a target feel ashamed or guilty about deviating from seemingly established sexual norms. Those at the receiving end are largely female, though slut-shaming is rampant in the LGBT community and it is rarely used as a tactic for discrediting men. We are all well aware of the double standard of promiscuity and sexuality being celebrated in men and not women. However, I am adamant that slut-shaming is not a male problem. I believe that once a person decides to label another person as a slut as a means of degradation, they are not blameless in perpetuating this negativity, regardless of gender. In fact, many feminiss argue a point that Fey’s character explains eloquently “you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” I think the problem is deeper than that, though I do agree that the sexualization of unwilling participants, whether it be a man or woman doing it, is a nasty thing our society allows to happen.

One of the primary issues with calling someone a slut is that there is nearly an endless list of transgressions that can cause a person to be stuck with the label. Further, the need to demean a person for being sexual seems to mostly be borne of jealousy. I’m going to outline some usual examples and explain why it’s not okay to call someone a slut based on them. It seems many women are defined as sluts because they want to have sex, and possibly even enjoy sexual acts (no way). Easily an example of this is distilled in Rush Limbaugh’s proclamation “women who want birth control are sluts”. I don’t understand the idea of wanting someone to be ashamed of wanting to be on the pill, particularly if they know they are going to have sex regularly and do not want to actually birth a child in the near future. I think sluttiness is tied to an idea of irresponsibility, but that’s confusing because a concerted effort to obtain a reliable form of birth control seems pretty damn responsible to me.

I also think it’s astounding that a person can be defined as a slut without a sexual act at all, and here I’m particularly talking about a way a woman dresses. First of all, I have seen women called sluts for having big boobs, which boggles my mind. Unless you have had elective surgery (which is their choice and still not your business), bust size has no correlation to the amount of sex you have had and is largely genetic. If a person wants to show off their body, that is their business. I’m not disregarding the fact that we live in a society that has encouraged women to find their value in their body and appearance. That being said, I think a person has the right to dress however they want, and just because it deviates from a dress code appropriated by society does not mean they need to be degraded. In fact, I contend this encourages rape culture. Lipstick, eyeliner, a short skirt, or showing cleavage does not mean a women wants to be sexually active. I’m going to equate calling her a slut and associating her with wanton sexual acts to basically “here are our rules, and if you don’t follow them something bad will happen to you. If you are raped it’ll be your own fault.” I do not believe that. I think that rape is the fault of the rapist, and that blaming a victim for being engaged in a violent act they did not consent to is pretty barbaric.

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Because you see, I don’t think there’s actually anything that could possibly qualify a person to judge whether or not another human being is a slut. Even if it is a label saved for deviance from what we deem acceptable, there is no codebook that outlines what is, especially in this modern age. Pre-marital sex is really commonplace now, and casual sex increasingly so. And guess what, if guys want to have casual sex, that means they have to engage in it with women who are having casual sex with them. You have no idea why a person wants to have sex with who they want to, at what age and why. You don’t know anything about their sexual history. If a person enjoys having sex with one person monogamously, that is cool, but if they want to have sex with many people and no one is getting hurt in the process, that is also cool. If they enjoy bondage or have a vibrator, whatever, that is their deal and it does not affect you. If a person enjoys their orgasm, why are we shaming them? That is awesome for them. Why have we made it dirty and shameful? I honestly do not understand why a person would care enough about another person’s very personal sexual tendencies. So you know why it is not cool to call someone a slut? Because their sex life is none of your goddamn business in the first place.

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